We started this Memorial Day afternoon fishing Spruce Run Reservoir for hybrid striped bass. We were trolling live herring and fished from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and ended the day with a really nice 24 inch, 7.20-lb Brown Trout.
The Hybrid fishing was pretty tough and really slow yesterday with only one Hybrid Bass in the boat for us that my buddy Jason landed; his first of the year!
After the one hybrid and after a while of zero action, we began thinking about packing it in for the evening. But just then we had a rod go off and it seemed like a really nice fish so my good friend and usual partner-in-crime Rob S. got the camera rolling.
We weren’t able to really tell what I had on for almost the entire fight, which lasted about 7-minutes, until the fish came up behind the boat at the very end. Although we didn’t know exactly what we had hooked before we saw it, every one of us knew we had something very special on the end of our line as the fight progressed more and more. Several times I got it to within 6 or 7-feet of the boat only to have it bulldog its way straight back down to the bottom.
Getting the fish into the boat was going to be an issue too since we forgot all our nets in the truck…talk about murphy’s law… My buddy Jason however, landed the fish by hand and he made it look easy!
We decided to keep this big beautiful brown trout and it will be mounted. Yes, we could have released it, but any good Trout fisherman will tell you that Trout stress out very easily; and when you add in a long hard fight like this one gave us in addition to almost 83 degree surface temperatures, release isn’t always the best option when it comes to Trout.
This fish is actually the 3rd Brown we’ve gotten out of Spruce Run over the past three weeks, and the other two (an 18-incher, and another that was 5+ pounds) were released safely since the water temps were still down in the low 60’s at that point and we didn’t have them on the line for anywhere near as long as this one was.
In my last “shore fishing 101” article we covered bait selection for fishing the shoreline of Round Valley for Trout, so I’m going to continue to cover the basics in this article by explaining the proper way to use a slip bobber while fishing from the shoreline. Now, there are two basic rigs that I use when I’m fishing the shoreline for Trout, slip bobbers and slip sinker rigs; however I will be covering slip sinker rigs in my next article. Both of these rigs are simple and will produce a lot of fish if used properly.
Why Use a Slip Bobber?
The slip bobber rig will allow you to suspend your bait at virtually any depth you want, while still allowing for easy casting. If you’ve ever tried to cast a traditional bobber setup with the hook any more than three feet away from your bobber you know it gets awkward to impossible.
When to Use a Slip Bobber?
In the hot summer months, trout go deep in search of cool water and your bait presentation is typically on the bottom. In the Fall, Winter, and Spring trout start moving around more in search of their comfort zone and it’s easiest to find that zone with a slip bobber.
To start out fishing with slip bobbers, you will need a fairly short, as well as cheap, list of tackle to set up your rig;
A small barrel swivel
Slip bobber (make sure it’s big enough to prevent your live bait from pulling it under)
Bobber stop (typically a small plastic tube with thread spooled around it, some also come with beads)
Small egg sinker or split shot
Size #6 or #8 bait holder or circle hook
Approximately 12-inch long fluorocarbon leader (Maximum 8-lb test)
Rigging the Slip Bobber
Visualize how the completed setup will look: hook > leader > swivel > sinker > bobber > bead > bobber stop > rod > reel > you!
1. Start putting this rig together by opening the bail on your reel and threading your fishing line through the plastic tube of the bobber stop. The plastic tube needs to come off so it’s important to do this now before you forget. Slide the thread off the tube and gently pull the tag ends so you get a nice looking knot directly on your mono. get it snug but do not tighten it yet, you’ll want to do that after setting the depth. Discard the plastic tube.
2. Next, thread a bead onto your line and then your slip bobber. If your bobber stop came with beads, use one. The bead is there to prevent your knot from slipping through the opening in the top of your bobber. It’s a rare case when the bead should not be used.
3. Next, thread a small 1/8 or 1/4-ounce egg sinker onto your line after your slip bobber. Then tie on your barrel swivel. The swivel acts as a stop for you egg sinker and can help with line twist when bringing in a fish. If you chose to use a split shot, instead of the egg sinker, it should be placed directly above your swivel, above the knot. don’t clamp down on your knot!
4. Now, all you need to complete your slip bobber rig is a leader and hook. For a leader, as stated before, you will want to be using about a 12-inch long fluorocarbon leader made of up to 8-lb test fluorocarbon. I personally won’t use anything heavier than 4-lb because of Round Valley’s crystal clear water and the fact that Trout are very line shy. As for hooks, I always use size #8 Gamakatsu Octupus Circle hooks since the purpose of those hooks is for use with live bait, and the way they’re points are angled they usually end up setting right in the corner of the fishes mouth when used properly making for easier hook removal and is better for catch and release. But if you don’t have any of those, a size #6 or #8 Gamakatsu Octopus or any regular bait-holder hook will work perfectly fine.
5. You should now have everything on your line in the proper order and all you need to do before you start fishing is set the depth of your bobber stop. The way I usually go about this is using my rod as a measuring tool. So if you know you have say a 5-foot long fishing rod and want to set your bait down 20-feet, you would just simply slide out line from your reel while measuring the length of the rod four times since you have a 5-foot rod and want to get down to 20-feet. After you’ve done that all you need to do is slide the bobber stop knot to the 20-foot mark, pull the tag ends tight this time, clip off the excess and you’re ready to fish with a slip bobber!
Zach Merchant with a 23.5inch Brown Trout caught recently while fishing from the Round Valley shoreline. The trout fell for a live shiner suspended under a slip bobber in the early morning hours.
Zach was using his ultralight spinning setup with 4lb. test mono when he connected with this beast. The trout made some strong runs and leaped out of the water at least four times, that he can remember, but to no avail. Note – when fighting a fish, it’s important to keep your rod tip UP which allows the flex of the rod to act like a shock absorber.
Zach and the trout later photographed (above) at Behre Bait & Tackle on Route 22 in Lebanon, NJ where he bought the live shiners and slip bobbers. If you’re looking to get into this kind of shore fishing this Fall, head on over there and get hooked up!
NJ trout fishing report for the second week of March 2014. Rainbow and Brown Trout from Ken Lockwood Gorge and Round Valley Reservoir.
I was finally able to get out for a solid week of fishing again last week, and while I didn’t have enough to put up a report for any given day, I feel like the week as a whole deserves a short report on here.
Ken Lockwood Gorge
I started out the week by fishing over at Ken Lockwood Gorge on Tuesday morning (March, 18) with Chelsey Hoover. We got out around 7:00 a.m. and started off to see if we could get into some Trout for the day. Since Chelsey’s just starting to get into fishing, she was spin fishing with Trout Magnets and Panther Martins while I was fly fishing with bead head nymphs.
New Jersey Monthly magazine has called Ken Lockwood Gorge one of the “Ten Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey.” With its steep slopes, huge boulders, impressive rapids and northern hemlocks, Ken Lockwood has long been a famous and much-loved site to birders, naturalists, kayakers, photographers, hikers, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts. This is the southernmost hemlock glen in New Jersey and the cool microclimate—created by the hemlocks, local geology and rushing water and mist—is home to a number of species of birds, other animals and plants that are more typical of far northern New Jersey and New England.
We started off by trying a few spots that were holding some fish last week when I fished with David Allen, including a spot where Dave landed a nice Rainbow and I got a few more hits. Though that morning, we had no luck there and eventually made our way down to a spot after about a mile hike where I had hooked into a beautiful wild Brown Trout a few days before. Didn’t take too long for me to hook into another fish at that spot, which ended up being another wild Brown which took a #16 bead-head pheasant tail nymph. That was about it for action that day for us, and after trying for about another hour or so we called it quits for the day.
Round Valley Reservoir
I got word that Round Valley had some open water for fishing the shoreline early in the week last week, and Chelsey H. and I decided to give it a shot. We first headed out in the rain on Wednesday afternoon (March, 19), and it was about a 1/2 mile hike to open water. While our day started off pretty slow and miserable, we got one nice fish on the line that took Powerbait off the bottom, but unfortunately it took us around a snag and spit the hook so we called it quits after another hour and a half. Though we went back the next morning and had our lines in the water by 7:00 a.m. It didn’t take too long for us to get some action, which picked up a little after 7:30. By the time 8:30 a.m. rolled around we had gotten about six hits, all on Powerbait.
Though the fish were just lipping it and hitting too lightly to stick the hook, so up until that point we hadn’t actually hooked into any fish. Though a little after 9:00 a.m., we had a hit on another one of our rods, and Chelsey hooked into and landed a 14.5-inch Rainbow Trout; her first fish out of Round Valley! That was it for the rest of our trip, but at least we beat the skunk! As far as the ice went that day, it had receded about another 100-150 feet or so from the previous day when we were there, and we even saw a few ice chunks up to 30-40 feet wide float by as the ice broke up. Also, as for the current ice situation; the ice completely broke up by last weekend and Round Valley is 100% ice free, which I’m sure everyone’s happy to hear!
With Winter now in full swing, the majority of fisherman and woman have put their rods away for the year. But for those of us that brave the cold weather, Round Valley can offer some great shoreline fishing to hold us over until the Spring! So in this series articles, I’m going to explain the basics for fishing the shoreline at Round Valley, which can be applied during the Fall, Winter, and Spring for Trout!
There’s a wide selection of baits you can use when fishing from shore. Though the two most widely used, and successful baits are Powerbait and Shiners, so I’m going to mainly cover using these in this article since we’re covering the basics of shoreline fishing. I’ve often found that the time of year does effect which bait the fish will be hitting more readily. Usually Shiners fished under slip bobbers work better during the Spring and Fall, while Powerbait and Shiners fished on the bottom work better during the coldest months of the year.
If targeting Rainbow Trout, your best bet would be Powerbait on the bottom, or Shiners fished both under slip bobbers as well as on the bottom. For Brown Trout, Shiners fished both under slip bobbers and on the bottom will produce. As far as Lake Trout go, they’re a little trickier at times. I’ve caught them on Shiners fished one foot under slip bobbers as well as fishing Shiners on the bottom casting to about 40-50 feet of water, and everything in between. Though the most consistent way of catching Lake Trout from shore would be Shiners on the bottom. While this is what I’ve observed while fishing Round Valley through the seasons, of course this isn’t always the case. So just to be on the safe side, even if the bite is hot on say Shiners under slip bobbers, I’ll almost always have one rod out with Powerbait as well just in case the bite switches to that throughout my trip (You never know what can happen!).
So pretty much to sum things up:
Shiners under slip bobbers in Spring and Fall, when there’s warmer water temperatures. (But not too warm of course)
Shiners and Powerbait fished on the bottom during the coldest months, usually between November/December and March/April. (Depending on water temperature)
Powerbait, nine out of ten times will produce Rainbow Trout.
Shiners under slip bobbers will produce Brown and Rainbow Trout.
Shiners fished on the bottom will produce a mix of Brown, Rainbow, and Lake Trout.
When in season, Shiners can be replaced by live Herring, which can be a more effective bait.
Also, in addition to the baits that I went over in this article. They are not in any means the only baits that will produce Trout from shore at Round Valley. A few other baits that are commonly used while fishing the shoreline are:
Marshmallow and mealworm combos fished on the bottom
Garden worms or Night-crawlers fished on the bottom or under a bobber
Cooked salad Shrimp fished on the bottom
Stay tuned in for more shoreline fishing 101 articles! Next I’ll be covering things such as; rigs for shoreline fishing, finding a good shore fishing location, and casting lures from the shoreline!